November 12, 2014

Alice Kent’s 50th Anniversary at Nelson Glass Is Marked by Donations to SAVE’s Fundraiser

LOYALTY AND LONGEVITY: “I really like my job because it is so diversified, and every day is different. You can always count on something interesting happening.” Alice Kent (right), general manager of Nelson Glass & Aluminum Co., is celebrating 50 years with the company. She is shown with owner Robbie Nelson and a photo of Alice’s cat, Taz.

LOYALTY AND LONGEVITY: “I really like my job because it is so diversified, and every day is different. You can always count on something interesting happening.” Alice Kent (right), general manager of Nelson Glass & Aluminum Co., is celebrating 50 years with the company. She is shown with owner Robbie Nelson and a photo of Alice’s cat, Taz.

In 1964, Alice Kent answered an ad in the newspaper for a secretarial position at the Nelson Glass Company. She was hired immediately by founder and owner, the late Bob Nelson. The rest, as they say, is history!

Today, no one at Nelson Glass & Aluminum Co., including its wide circle of customers, can imagine the company without Alice.

“I started out by answering the phone, handling the billing and paperwork,” recalls Ms. Kent. “In those days, we did everything by hand, and I used a typewriter. As time went on, I learned more and more about the glass business, and Mr. Nelson taught me how to read blueprints. Some of the big changes in the business were the introduction of computers and technology, all of which I had to learn about.

“Working with Bob Nelson made me feel like part of the family. Everyone here was so nice. I really felt I was a part of the organization and the family.”

Part of the Family

Indeed, early on, Ms. Kent really did become a member of the Nelson family, both professionally and personally, reports Eleanor Nelson, widow of Bob Nelson. “Alice is definitely family to us. She knows all of us, and she truly is part of the family. We have always wanted to be there for Alice. And, her dedication to the business and the way Nelson Glass has been maintained is just as Bob had hoped.”

Owner Robbie Nelson agrees, and she has her own memories of Ms. Kent: “My three sisters and I always came to the office when we were little girls, and we loved to see Alice. In those days, people really got dressed up to go to work, and Alice always wore high heeled shoes. She loved them. She always had extras in different colors with her, and she’d change them during the day. She kept a stash of the shoes in the corner of the ladies room. My sisters and I loved to try on all the shoes and try to walk around in them.

“Also when I was a little girl, Alice taught me to make tuna salad! We have lots and lots of memories of being with Alice.

“Another thing,” continues Ms. Nelson, “my dad had four daughters, and he made sure that all of us knew how to re-glaze a broken window. He believed women were able to accomplish a lot, and he felt that way about Alice. He recognized ability and brains.”

Ms. Kent was certainly up to the tasks at hand, and she also readily adapted to the times — more easily, in fact, than the occasional customer who, as Alice points out, “demanded to speak to a man! This happened once in a while, but now they seem to be fine dealing with me. Scheduling and estimates are part of my job. For example, if someone needs a new storm door;, I’ll schedule one of the men to go over to see it. Then when he reports back, I’ll give the customer an estimate for the work.”

“I’ve known lots and lots of customers over the years, including new generations in the same family. It’s a special relationship.”

Unusual Requests

Nelson Glass is known for being able to provide every kind of glass need and service, but occasionally unusual requests come along. For example, on one occasion, a longtime customer’s key was broken as it was inserted into the door lock. The client called Nelson Glass, which had provided the door, and the company sent over a service person. The problem was solved.

Ms. Kent reports an even more unusual circumstance that occurred recently. “The other day, we had a call from a man who wanted a storm window. He explained that he didn’t drive, and was getting a bike from Kopps Cycles, so he could ride from Hopewell to Flemington in order to see about a job at Home Depot, ‘so I can pay my rent.’ He said he would give us $25 if we would deliver the bike to him when we brought over the storm window.”

Ms. Kent said they were trying to see whether they could help him out.

Unusual requests are not surprising at Nelson Glass, and are just one more indication of the company’s effort to satisfy customers.

It is important to remember that as Alice Kent celebrates her 50th anniversary, Nelson Glass is marking its 65th year in business. The company is unique in Princeton today. An independent, family-owned and operated business, it has continued to provide Princeton and the area with knowledgeable, friendly service and quality products. It has a proud history.

Founded by Bob Nelson in 1950, it has grown and evolved over the years, and his daughter Robbie Nelson now heads the firm. Ms. Nelson has a thorough understanding of the glass business, having worked in many areas of the company, including serving as bookkeeper.

“When Robbie became the owner, everything went so well,” comments Ms. Kent. ”It just transitioned to Robbie so smoothly.”

Changing Times

Your son just hit a baseball through the window; the wind blew the patio table over and broke the glass top; the heavy mirror fell off the wall; the wood around the window sill has rotted … the list goes on. Nelson Glass can take care of all of these problems and more.

Changing times have brought changing needs, including installation of frameless shower enclosures; double-paned insulated glass windows; “filming”, a transparent film placed over the window to cut down UV rays and help eliminate fading of artwork, photographs, and furniture in a room. All of these and more are part of Nelson Glass services today.

And, Ms. Kent is up-to-date on everything. “Alice really knows all about the business,” observes Ms. Nelson. “She‘s had 50 years of experience. She’s seen changes in technology, worked with different shop foreman, and she has made many connections with our customers.

“She is also very modern, and a very colorful person in her dress. She loves jewelry, and she always has a look about her.”

Ms. Kent also loves animals and has rescued and saved many dogs and cats. With that in mind, Ms. Nelson has chosen a unique way to mark Ms. Kent’s 50th anniversary. Contributions made in Alice’s honor throughout the month of November will be donated to SAVE, Prince-ton’s animal shelter.

This amount will be matched by Nelson Glass, and the total monies raised will then be matched by the George H. and Estelle M. Sands Foundation. All of these funds will go toward SAVE’s New Beginnings Campaign, with its goal of $3 million to build a new state-of-the-art shelter for 100 dogs and cats. A special cat cage will be dedicated in Ms. Kent’s honor.

Honorary Gift

“We are very touched that Nelson Glass has established this special honorary gift for Alice Kent,” observes Piper Burrows, SAVE’s executive director. “Alice has been a dedicated employee for 50 years, and this is simply remarkable. The naming of a cage is a lovely way to recognize her loyalty to Nelson Glass and her passion for animals.”

“I was really floored when Robbie suggested the SAVE donation,” says Ms. Kent. “It’s just perfect, and people are already responding. A lady stopped in yesterday, and looked at all the animal pictures on the wall, and gave us a nice donation for SAVE.”

Individuals who would like to contribute to SAVE in Ms. Kent’s honor can stop in at Nelson Glass at 45 Spring Street, where envelopes will be provided. Or donations can be sent directly to SAVE.

“Even if you don’t have a glass need, just stop in and acknowledge Alice,” suggests Ms. Nelson. “Please come in and say hello and make a donation with a note for her. Also, you can bring in a photo of your pet, and we’ll put it up on the wall, where we are establishing a wall of animal pictures.

“My dad had a certain philosophy of running the business,” she adds. “It’s about the way you treat customers and handle things. Alice and I have picked up on that. Alice is Nelson Glass in a lot of ways. She is the face of Nelson Glass and the voice of Nelson Glass, and has been for many years.”

And the good news is that Ms. Kent has no plans to retire anytime soon!

For more information about honoring Alice and donating to SAVE, call Nelson Glass at (609) 924-2880, or SAVE at (609) 924-3802.